Phillip Anthony Morris
August 16, 1940 – September 14, 2017
Philip Anthony Morris
Aug. 16, 1940 - Sept 14, 2017
Philip Morris, who gave thousands of people – across the South and beyond – a keen appreciation for how landscape and good design add richness to our lives, died Thursday, September 14th, 2017. He was 77. A native of Oklahoma, he was born Aug. 16, 1940, to Tess Esther Murphy and Frank Patrick Fennel Morris.
Philip was preceded in death by his parents and by his siblings Mary Patricia Morris Pemberton, Michael Francis Morris, Stephen Owen Morris, Nancee Morris Hallmark, and Janet Morris Sinclair. He is survived by his sister Kathleen Ann Elizabeth Morris Boyle and her husband Clifford Boyle, and by numerous nieces and nephews.
After graduating Rockhurst College in Kansas City, Mo., Philip was a reporter for the Oklahoma Journal and later the Daily Oklahoman/Oklahoma City Times, with an interval of two years spent traveling in Europe. Then Southern Living, a fledgling regional magazine, recruited him to Birmingham in 1969. He soon became instrumental in shaping the magazine’s editorial thrust, including initiating coverage of landscape architecture in the early 1970s and helping create Southern Living’s distinctive voice, celebrating the special character of Southern lifestyles and Southern places. He served as executive editor 1976-91 and as editor-at-large for Southern Living, Southern Accents, and Coastal Living from 1991 until his retirement in 2000.
Philip’s broad approach to design embraced landscape architecture, architecture, interior design, historic preservation, and town planning and urban design. Known for his energy and strong convictions, he exerted influence through writing, editorial vision, and numerous public presentations aimed at showing how design can help secure and strengthen the unique identity of a place. Eventually this found expression in Philip’s civic involvement in his adopted home of Birmingham.
His leadership positions included serving as president and/or chair of Operation New Birmingham (now REVBirmingham), Birmingham Historical Society, and Mountain Brook Villages Design Review Committee; co-chair of Vulcan Park renovation planning committee; board member of Vulcan Park Foundation, Birmingham Botanical Society, Friends of Linn Park, and a founding board member of Design Alabama and Horizon 280 Association. He also served on planning committees for Linn Park, Railroad Park, and Red Mountain Park. Both the American Society of Landscape Architects and the American Institute of Architects awarded him Honorary Memberships, and in the mid-1980s he was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Other honors include induction into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame and receipt of the Alabama Humanities Award by the Alabama Humanities Foundation, in recognition of his many contributions to the state. Prior to his death, Philip established a design initiative through the Birmingham Community Foundation.
A celebration of his life will be held at a later date. In accordance with his wishes, donations in his memory may be sent to Birmingham Botanical Gardens at 2612 Lane Park Rd, Birmingham, AL 35223.